The American Mafia

Timeline Part 1. 1282-1899

The American Mafia first takes root in the immigrant Sicilian communities of New Orleans, Louisiana. The city's underworld remains divided into factions for decades. The assassination of New Orleans Police Chief Hennessy and the lynchings that follow bring international attention to the Crescent City's Mafia organization. The Morello-Terranova-Lupo family of Corleone bring a new level of organization to the American Mafia upon their arrival in the U.S.

1282 Mar 29 Palermo Palermo Sicily
Citizens of Palermo Source Sicilian Vespers" revolution against the occupying Angevins is traditionally viewed as the birth of the Sicilian Mafia. There are no contemporary mentions of the name "Mafia," a term which comes into being hundreds of years later, but the underground movement against Anjou may be seen as the ancestor of a later Mafia. The revolution began on Easter Sunday in 1282 - March 29 by the Julian calendar then in use.
1843     New Orleans LA US
Joseph P. Macheca Source A son is born in New Orleans to a couple known to history as Peter and Marietta Carvanna. Marietta later marries Giuseppe Macheca, and her son takes the name Joseph Peter Macheca. As an adult, Joseph Peter Macheca becomes a patron of and adviser to the fledgling Mafia in New Orleans.
1856 Jun   New Orleans LA US
Norbert Trepagnier Source An attempted murder of court clerk Trepagnier, a Know-Nothing political leader, by a group of men who look to be Sicilians prompts violent reprisals against the New Orleans Sicilian colony.
1857 Nov   Monreale Palermo Sicily
Charles Matranga Source Future New Orleans Mafia leader Charles Matranga is born in Monreale, Sicily, the son of Stuppagghieri Mafioso Salvatore Matranga.
1858 Jan   New Orleans LA US
Salvatore, Antonio, Charles Matranga Source The Matranga family arrives in New Orleans.
1860 Jan   New Orleans LA US
Raffaele Agnello Source Palermo Mafioso Raffaele Agnello arrives in New Orleans. His brother Joseph is already settled in the city.
1861 Sep 10 New Orleans LA US
Joseph P. Macheca Source Following Louisiana's secession from the United States and merger with the Confederacy, Macheca enlists in the 22nd Louisiana Infantry of the Confederate Army.
1862 Jan 22 Burgio? Agrigento Sicily
Vito Cascio Ferro Source Birth of Vito Cascio Ferro to Accursio and Santa Ippolito Cascio Ferro. He may have been born at this date in Burgio, Province of Agrigento, or nearby in Province of Palermo. Some authorities indicate June 25, 1862, as his birthdate.
1862 Apr   New Orleans LA US
Raffaele Agnello Source As federal forces advance on New Orleans, Confederate soldiers and regular police officers are moved out. A force of foreign-born residents led by Raffaele Agnello and others is assembled to keep order.
1862     Palermo Sicily Italy
Giuseppe Rizzotto Source First known literary use of a Mafia-related term occurs in the Sicilian play entitled I Mafiusi della Vicaria. Written by Giuseppe Rizzotto, the play's setting is a Palermo prison.
1863 Aug 28 New Orleans LA US
Joseph P. Macheca Source Joseph P. Macheca, Anthony Skillman and Capt. Hayes are tried and convicted in military court in connection with a scheme to steal and sell U.S. Army barrels of pork and beef. Macheca is let off with a $50 fine.
1867 May 02 Corleone Palermo Sicily
Giuseppe Morello Source Giuseppe Morello is born in Corleone to Calogero and Angela Piazza Morello.
1868 Oct 24 New Orleans LA US
Joseph P. Macheca Source Macheca forms a mostly Sicilian street gang called the Innocenti and leads them on violent anti-Republican, anti-African American marches in the days leading up to the 1868 Presidential election. (The group is nominally led by well-respected resident Pascalis Labarre, but later inquiries reveal that Labarre was little more than a figurehead for the organization.)
1868 Oct 28 New Orleans LA US
Joseph P. Macheca Source Macheca's Innocenti gang has seized control of many city streets in response to the killing of one of the gang's members on Oct. 27.
1868 Oct   New Orleans LA US
Litero Barba, Raffaele Agnello, Joseph P. Macheca Source Litero Barba, Innocenti member and leader of the Messina colony in New Orleans, is killed on his way home from an Innocenti meeting. Initially, suspicion is focused on businessman Octave Belot, but Macheca's gang later decides that local Sicilian leader Raffaele Agnello was responsible. A gang war erupts between Sicilian factions - one comprised of the followers of Palermo-born Agnello and the other comprised of Messinian gangsters and allied immigrants from Trapani, Sicily.
1869 Feb 28 New Orleans LA US
  Source Violence between Sicilian factions on Royal Street. Several men suffer gunshot and knife wounds. No one mortally wounded.
1869 Mar 02 New Orleans LA US
Raffaele Agnello, Joseph Agnello, Alphonse Mateo, Joseph Banano Source In an effort to restore peace, Joseph Agnello hosts a party at his house on Royal Street between St. Philip and Ursulines. (The date of the party is uncertain. Sources say it occurred weeks after the murder of Barba. It appears to have occurred more than four months later.) He invites several of the Trapanesi allied to the Messinian gang, including Joseph Banano. A fight breaks out late in the evening. Banano is shot in the back but survives. Alphonse Mateo, believed to have killed Litero Barba on orders from Raffaele Agnello, is shot in the face. He too survives.
1869 Mar 03 New Orleans LA US
Joseph Agnello Source On the day after Joseph Agnello's party, Messina-Trapani faction of the New Orleans Sicilian underworld shows up well armed and in force at the Old French Market, preparing to do battle with the Palermo faction. Palermo leaders anticipate the move and do not show up at the market.
1869 Mar 07 New Orleans LA US
Joseph Agnello, Alphonse Mateo, Frank Sacarro, Joseph Banano Source Agnello and Mateo burst into the Chartres Street home (between Dumain and St. Philip) of Giovanni Casabianca where leaders of the Messina-Trapani faction are gathered. They open fire with shotguns. Casabianca, Joseph Banano and Pietro Allucho escape with minor injuries. They decide to leave New Orleans to regroup in Galveston, Texas. They are pursued by Frank Sacarro, godson of Raffaele Agnello.
1869 Mar 22 New Orleans LA US
Joseph Banano, Giovanni Casabianca, Pietro Allucho Source Banano, Casabianca and Allucho return to New Orleans. They quietly go to work not at the usual Old French Market but some distance away at Poydras Market.
1869 Mar 23 New Orleans LA US
Giovanni Casabianca, Pietro Allucho, J. Daniel Clark, Salvatore Rosa, Joseph Agnello Source Joseph Agnello and Salvatore Rosa locate Casabianca and Allucho at the Poydras Market and a gunfight ensues. Bystander J. Daniel Clark is struck by a bullet in the throat and later dies. Agnello and Rosa escape. Casabianca and Allucho are arrested and charged with causing the death of Clark.
1869 Apr 01 New Orleans LA US
Raffaele Agnello, Frank Sacarro, Joseph Florda, Joseph P. Macheca Source Raffaele Agnello, perhaps believing the gang war is concluded, strolls with his godson and bodyguard Frank Sacarro through the Italian sections of New Orleans business district. As he reaches the front of the Macheca produce shop on Old Levee Street between Toulouse and St. Louis, an assassin fires a brass-mounted blunderbuss pistol into Agnello's face. Agnello is instantly killed. The assassin, believed to be Joseph Florda (this is one of many names by which the man is known - others are Ignatio Renatz, Jose Flora and Gaetano Arditto), is wounded by Sacarro as he flees.
1869 Jul 23 New Orleans LA US
Joseph Agnello, Salvatore Rosa, Joseph Banano, Pietro Allucho Source Banano and Allucho are engaged in a gunfight with Agnello at the Old French Market, when Salvatore Rosa emerges from a nearby cart with a shotgun. Rosa shoots and kills Banano and Allucho.
1869 Aug 21 New Orleans LA US
Salvatore Rosa Source While awaiting trial for the murders of Joseph Banano and Pietro Allucho, Salvatore Rosa suddenly becomes gravely ill. He is released after friends post a bail of $15,000. He dies at his home on Aug. 21, 1869.
1869 Sep   Ciminna Palermo Sicily
Rosario Dispenza Source Birth of Rosario Dispenza, future boss of the Chicago Mafia, in Ciminna, Sicily, to Nicholas and Vita Ganga Dispenza.
1869 Nov   New Orleans LA US
Joseph Agnello, Dominick Ciaffo, Baptisto Lamana Source Joseph Agnello, awaiting trial for charges related to the killings of Joseph Banano and Pietro Allucho, is granted release in bail of $4,000, provided by Dominick Ciaffo and Baptisto Lamana.
1872 Apr 20 New Orleans LA US
Joseph Agnello, Joseph Maressa, Joseph Florda, Vitali Dimichelli Source Joseph Agnello is cornered by Joseph Maressa (also known as Vincent Orsica, business partner of Paul Salamoni), Joseph Florda (suspected killer of Raffaele Agnello), Vitali Dimichelli (his father Rosario was killed in March 1869 in the feud) and another gunman (whose name was given as Tilorez or Toledano) at the Picayune Tier of the New Orleans docks. He leaps onto the deck of the moored vessel Mischief, where he is shot to death by Maressa. The slug fired by Maressa's horse pistol leaves a hole completely through Agnello's midsection. Customhouse Inspector Joseph Soude, a bystander, is caught in a crossfire and killed. A boy on the Mischief, Edward O'Nixon, was wounded in the gunfight.
1877 Jan   Palermo Province Sicily Italy
Antonino Leone, Giuseppe Esposito Source Soon after the kidnapping of English businessman John Forester Rose by a band led by Leone and Esposito, Italy engages in repressive policies to combat brigands.
1877 May   Aliminusa Palermo Province Italy
Antonino Leone, Giuseppe Esposito Source Brigand chief Antonino Leone, betrayed by a follower, is surrounded by Italian police. As Leone and two of his lieutenants attempt to fight their way out of the trap, they are shot to death. Leone lieutenant Giuseppe Esposito was not with the gang at the time.
1877 Jun 23 Termini Imerese Palermo Province Italy
Antonio Leone, Salvatore Salpietra, Giuseppe Esposito Source Former Leone lieutenants Giuseppe Esposito and Salvatore Salpietra and two men named Gallo and Giglio are hiding in Termini Imerese. Esposito separates from the group as he explores the possibility of escape on a ship. A cottage occupied by Salpietra, Gallo and Giglio is surrounded by police. The three brigands are captured after an exchange of gunfire.
1877 Jul 9 Alia Palermo Province Italy
Giuseppe Esposito Source Giuseppe Esposito, upon learning of the capture of Salvatore Salpietra, surrenders to authorities in Alia.
1878 Sep 5 Palermo Palermo Province Italy
Giuseppe Esposito, Salvatore Salpietra Source While they are being transported to trial at the Court of Assizes in Palermo, an orchestrated plan results in the escapes of Esposito, Salpietra and an associate.
1878 Nov   San Francisco CA US
Rosario Meli, Ignazio Trepani, Joseph Bianchi, Salvatore Messino Source Mafia leader Rosario Meli and associates Trepani and Bianchi are convicted of robbing G. Pennelli in a San Francisco pool room. Similar charges against Messino are dismissed when he cooperates with authorities.
1878 Dec 7 San Francisco CA US
Rosario Meli, Ignazio Trepani, Joseph Bianchi Source San Francisco Mafia leader Rosario Meli is sentenced to five years and six months in California State Prison for robbery. Accomplice Trepani gets five years and three months, and Bianchi gets five years.
1879     New Orleans LA US
Giuseppe Esposito Source Esposito flees Sicily and makes his way to the United States. After a brief stay in New York City, he moves on to settle in New Orleans.
1879 Dec 23 Washington DC US
Rosario Meli Source Following an application by the government of Italy, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Hay signs an extradition order for Rosario Meli.
1880 Aug   Sacramento CA US
Rosario Meli Source California Governor George Clement Perkins pardons convicted robber Rosario Meli so he can be released from California State Prison and turned over to agents of Italy for extradition. The matter is kept quiet out of fear that Meli's Mafia associates will try to help him escape.
1880 Aug 31 New York City NY US
Rosario Meli Source Meli reaches New York City in the custody of Italian police officer Lucca Garrette and California law enforcement officer, Captain Stone. A group of New York City Sicilians arranges for representation by attorney William F. Kintzing. The group attempts to visit Meli at police headquarters but is refused permission.
1880 Sep 8 New York City NY US
Rosario Meli Source Meli is taken to Pier No. 50 North River, placed aboard the steamer Canada bound for Havre and released into the custody of agents of the Italian police.
1881 Mar 31 Washington DC US
Giuseppe Esposito Source Responding to the application of Italian Prince Camporeale, U.S. Secretary of State James G. Blaine grants a warrant to arrest Giuseppe Esposito and conduct an examination into Italy's criminal charges against him, with a view to surrendering him for extradition to Italy.
1881 Jul 7 New Orleans LA US
Giuseppe Esposito, David Hennessy, Mike Hennessy Source Giuseppe Esposito (aliases Giuseppe Randazzo, Vincenzo Rebello) is captured in New Orleans by police detectives David and Mike Hennessy, cousins. He is turned over to private detectives working as agents of the Italian government and subsequently transported to New York City.
1886 Sep 30 Houston TX US
Mike Hennessy Source Mike Hennessy, who moved from New Orleans to establish a detective agency in Houston, is shot to death a short distance from his home. The gunman escaped unseen.
1890 May 6 New Orleans LA US
Antonio Matranga, David Hennessy Source Though police officials believed they had resolved a New Orleans underworld feud between Mafia factions led by the Matranga and Provenzano families, the feud erupts with an early morning ambush of Matranga workers. Three men, including Antonio Matranga, are seriously wounded. Provenzano leaders are jailed, as Police Chief David Hennessy takes personal charge of the investigation.
1890 Oct 15 New Orleans LA US
David Hennessy, Charlie Matranga, Joseph P. Macheca Source Police Chief David Hennessy is shot and mortally wounded by a group of gunmen as he approaches his home. He is heard to say "Dagoes" are responsible. The Matranga Mafia faction, led by Charlie Matranga and advised by Joseph P. Macheca, is believed responsible, as that faction had viewed Hennessy as a protector of the rival Provenzanos.
1891 Feb 27 New Orleans LA US
Joseph P. Macheca, Charlie Matranga, David Hennessy Source Macheca, Matranga and seven other defendants are tried for the murder of Police Chief Hennessy.
1891 Mar 13 New Orleans LA US
Joseph P. Macheca, Charlie Matranga, David Hennessy Source A jury finds none of the nine defendants guilty of the murder of Chief Hennessy. The New Orleans population is enraged. A group of local political leaders organize for a rally that will storm the Orleans Parish Prison, where the defendants remain, the next morning.
1891 Mar 14 New Orleans LA US
Joseph P. Macheca, Charlie Matranga, William Parkerson Source A mob forms under the direction of political leader William Parkerson. The mob storms Orleans Parish Prison, and a select execution squad is sent into the institution. Macheca and ten other prisoners are murdered. Matranga, recognized leader of the local Mafia, is spared by the execution squad.
1893 Feb 1   Palermo Province Italy
Emanuele Notarbartolo, Raffaele Palizzolo, Giuseppe Fontana Source Anti-Mafia business and political leader Emanuele Notarbartolo is stabbed to death on a train traveling between Termini Imerese and Palermo. His enemies Palizzolo and Fontana are believed responsible. Fontana is arrested along with a group of Mafiosi from the town of Villabate.
1899 Jun 28 New York NY US
Rosario Dispenza Source Rosario Dispenza of Ciminna, Sicily, arrives in New York City with his wife and children on their way to Chicago. Dispenza will quickly become boss of the Chicago Mafia.
1899 Dec 8 Palermo Sicily Italy
Emanuele Notarbartolo, Raffaele Palizzolo Source Palizzolo is arrested for the 1893 murder of Emanuele Notarbartolo.
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